It has now been a year since Huawei unveiled its first folding phone. The Mate X took the opposite approach to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold by putting the screen on the outside, so when folded there’s a screen on the front and back.

But even now, that phone hasn’t been officially launched outside China so your only option if you live in another country is to import one.

At the launch in China towards the end of 2019, Huawei took the unusual step of revealing an updated model, which was essentially a tweaked version of the original. It’s called the Mate Xs which, yes, is exactly the same naming strategy Apple used for the iPhone X and then Xs a year later.

Chief among the upgrades is the Kirin 990 processor, but there’s also an improved hinge and a tougher screen. (Note that the images here are of the original Mate X.)

Mate Xs rumours

The latter two changes were discussed in an interview with French media by Huawei’s CEO, Richard Yu, and reported by Frandroid.

In the same interview, Yu said that Huawei would like to release the folding phone in Europe in the first quarter of 2020, but didn’t specify whether that would be the original model, or the updated one.

Mate Xs rumours at a glance:

  • Largely the same as original Mate X
  • Improved hinge design
  • Tougher screen to withstand damage
  • Slimmer bezels for slightly smaller overall design
  • Kirin 990 processor (with 5G)
  • Upgraded cameras
  • European release date: Q1 2020
  • Cheaper price

Mate Xs price rumours

Frankly, it would make no sense to launch the original model in Europe. The Mate X is already expensive enough – the official European price of the Mate X is €2299 – so even if the Kirin 990 adds a little to the price it won’t make any difference to buyers, all of whom will surely want the latest available processor in their exclusive phone.

However, we're actually hearing rumours that Huawei will follow in Samsung's rumoured footsteps by reducing the price of its next foldable. This is apparently going to be possible thanks to the new screen being easier to produce, lowering manufacturing costs.

Mate Xs rumours

Mate Xs release date

Bear in mind that Huawei hasn’t announced an official release date yet – there’s a possibility that the Mate Xs won’t go on sale outside of China, just like its predecessor.

Richard Yu has said that the Mate Xs will be shown off at MWC in February 2020 but that’s no guarantee of a European launch: the Mate X was demonstrated at MWC 2019, don’t forget.

There could a potential stumbling block in the form of the ongoing  US trade ban which means – as with Huawei’s other recent new models – that the Mate Xs can’t be shipped with Google services. And that could force buyers to look at the updated Galaxy Fold instead, which has been launched worldwide.

We've compared the Mate X and the Galaxy Fold, if you're keen to know more.

Mate Xs specs

While it’s possible that Huawei might update other components, it’s likely that a lot will remain the same.

And if you’re in need of a quick reminder of the Mate X’s main specs, here they are:

  • Screen: 8in, 2480x2200, (8:7.1 aspect ratio)
  • 8GB RAM + 512MB storage
  • Battery: 4500mAh
  • 40 MP (Wide Angle Lens, f/1.8 aperture) + 16 MP (Ultra Wide Angle Lens, f/2.2 aperture) + 8 MP (Telephoto, f/2.4 aperture,OIS), Time-of-Flight(TOF) Camera
  • Colour: Interstellar Blue

As mentioned, the main camera sensor in the Mate Xs will use an RYYB sub-pixel layout like the P30 Pro, enabling better low-light performance.

Huawei Mate Xs rumours

It’s also worth noting that although the Kirin 990 is a better performer than the 980 in its CPU, GPU and NPU duties, it uses less power and also has a built-in 5G modem, rather than having to rely on a separate one as in the original Mate X.

Though the screen is expected to remain the same size, slimmer bezels may mean the overall design is smaller, and the display is also expected to be tougher and cheaper to produce.

As other rumours or news about the Mate Xs emerges, we’ll update this article.